Lotte Reiniger

Active - 1922 - 1954  |   Born - Jun 2, 1899   |   Died - Jan 1, 1981   |   Genres - Fantasy

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

Experimental filmmaker Lotte Reiniger was a pioneer in animation best known for her innovative work with backlit silhouettes, which was partialy inspired by Chinese shadow puppets. She is credited with directing one of the first animated features, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), ten years before Disney made Snow White. Prior to making her first animated short The Ornament of the Loving Heart (1919), Reiniger studied under Max Reinhardt whose innovative expressionist light techniques also influenced her films. Soon after, she found herself in a clique of other avant-garde filmmakers including Paul Wegener, Walter Ruttman, Berthold Bartosch, Hans Richter and the man she married, Carl Koch. She often collaborated with one or more of these fellows on her later works. Prince Achmed was adapted from the Arabian Nights and is aimed for children; it is done in silhouette, but also includes abstract sections involving sliced wax, and sand on backlit glass. To do the film, Reinger built an innovative 'multiplane' camera that was able to separate background layers from foreground layers. During the mid '30s she emigrated to Britain where she began working for the Crown and GPO Film Units. After the Second World War, she continued to reside in England where she made numerous short films frequently based on legends and fairy tales.